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Binding of Isaac style magical roguelike surges on Steam after update

Magicraft is a roguelike game with elements of The Binding of Isaac, Noita, and Magicka, and its new update is proving popular on Steam

Magicraft update sees Steam player count surge for magical roguelike - A boy in a wizard robe and hat holds up a staff to cast a spell.

The Binding of Isaac remains one of the most fundamental pillars of the modern roguelike, leading us into plenty more top-down games with bullet hell elements including Enter the Gungeon, Nuclear Throne, Children of Morta, and ultimately even the likes of Hades. Released via Steam Early Access in November 2023, Magicraft is one such game with very promising ideas, blending a unique spellcrafting system reminiscent of the likes of Noita or Magicka with that familiar Isaac-style perspective.

Magicraft is very much a more classic take on some of the best roguelike games in the Binding of Isaac mold, but its spell system is where it really shines. You’ll pick up various spell types and modifiers that you can slot together in different combinations, resulting in some really interesting buildcrafting potential.

Drop in the chain lightning and splitting effects along with a couple of standard missiles, for example, and you’ll fire out bursts of magic that travel a short distance before splitting into expanding triangles of lightning. Add in a black hole effect, and each of the points of the triangle will suck nearby enemies in. It’s a clever system that, like all good roguelikes, can result in some truly broken builds if you strike it lucky.

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The newest update for Magicraft just launched this week, bringing with it the fourth chapter, Abyss of Antiquity. This new area is full of some terrifying, Lovecraftian enemies that wouldn’t look out of place in Baldur’s Gate 3 – including the Mana Absorber, essentially a flying Mindflayer head that drains your magic juice, the eyeball-rich Shadow Pillar that shields other nearby enemies, huge Ice Giants capable of freezing you in place, and the terrifying Skeletal Centaur, of which little is revealed.

There are also new spells, including a flamethrower, a modifier causing affected spells to reflect into nearby enemies, and some handy tricks for summoner builds that can cause your minions to explode at low health, or continue fighting after death for a short while. There’s also a new NPC called Gina who will offer a new ‘spell disable’ service in the workshop once rescued, allowing you to more effectively craft the spells you want.

Magicraft’s latest update is proving popular, too. Following its launch, the game’s Steam concurrent player count has risen dramatically from an average of around 1,000 players over the past month to a peak of 7,601 on Saturday, March 15. That’s a little way short of its original launch peak of 12,391, but it shows players are very much eager to come back and check out each new upgrade as they arrive.

Magicraft - The new mana absorber enemy, a winged head with tentacles.

In its current form, Magicraft is certainly still a little rough around the edges, with some additional bug fixing and localization required – developer Wave Game notes that it “still needs a lot of testing and player feedback,” saying, “we are a very small team and we need your help to complete the game.” However, the concepts at play here are really clever, and its spell system is one of the most interesting ways I’ve seen to handle that classic puzzle of item synergies that often makes a good roguelike into a truly great one.

This latest update seems like a good step in that direction, and Wave Game says it’s currently at work on the fifth chapter, along with additional “spells, relics, wands, curses, potions, and other content” and upgrades to the workshop and endless mode.

Looking for even more fantastic fantasy games to conjure stellar spells and explode your enemies? We’ve picked out the essentials, along with more of the best indie games in 2024 to ensure you aren’t missing any great games from smaller studios.

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